Ochsner Health System (Ochsner) has outlined a system-wide plan to improve outcomes for cancer patients in Louisiana through increased education and prevention efforts, patient screenings and improved early detection across the community and region. System President & CEO Warner Thomas pledged on behalf of the organization to increase cancer screenings in 2018 by 40,000, with a goal of 141,000 total additional cancer screenings by the year 2022 — as Ochsner cancer professionals continue to research and explore new ways to prevent the disease.

With the third highest cancer incidence rates in the U.S., Louisiana loses about 178 Louisianans each week to cancer. Those who live in Louisiana are 19 percent more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis over those in neighboring states of Texas and Florida. For those currently battling cancer in the state, the chances of not surviving are 15 percent higher than the national average. Why is this? Louisiana leads the nation in obesity, and despite the proven risks, 22 percent of Louisianans still smoke.

“Although Louisiana continues to rank 49th overall in the country for health outcomes, five-year cancer survival rates for patients treated at Ochsner continue to exceed the national average for liver, colon, lung, breast, prostate and many more cancer types,” said Thomas. “Our goal is to improve patient outcomes, provide patients with increased access to healthcare options and properly educate the community as part of our commitment to make Louisiana and the Gulf South a better place to live. We are dedicated to changing and saving the lives of these patients and want them to feel confident when choosing Ochsner for their care.”

In 2017, Ochsner conducted 65,000 breast, 69,000 cervical and 100,000 colorectal cancer screenings. In the next year, Ochsner plans to increase those screening numbers by 40,000 patients, with a goal of 141,000 total additional cancer screenings by the year 2022. Ochsner is also committed to helping Louisianans outside of its network with plans to conduct over 10,000 community cancer screenings over the next five years.

Early cancer detection is the key to increasing cancer survival rates:

  • When breast cancer is detected during stage 1 or 2, patients can expect a 99 percent survival rate over five years. When caught at stage 4, the percentage drops to 26 percent.
  • For colorectal cancer, early detection is equally crucial, giving patients a six-times greater chance at survival than those whose cancers have already spread.
  • For women with cervical cancer, patients with tumors detected during cancer’s first 2 stages can expect a 91 percent survival rate, compared with just 17 percent during stage 4.

“Cancer prevention through education, lifestyle modification/risk factor reduction, and vaccination (for cervical, throat, and anal cancers related to viral exposure) is a public health imperative. Early identification of cancer through risk assessment and screening programs are crucial in our fight to reduce cancer fatality numbers,” said Dr. Brian Moore, Interim Director, Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center. “When performed at the right time or in high-risk patients, routine screenings can catch cancer in its earliest stages, and increase not only the likelihood of cure, but also potentially decrease the side effects of treatment. By focusing on both prevention and screening efforts across the state, in addition to delivering high quality care for patients who develop cancer, Ochsner is committed to improving cancer outcomes in our state and region.”

Cancer prevention and research has been at the forefront of Ochsner’s legacy for more than 75 years. In 1939, Ochsner founder, Dr. Alton Ochsner, was the first to connect tobacco and lung cancer. That is why Ochsner is collaborating with its partners, such as St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Slidell Memorial Hospital, to offer a more comprehensive range of services in these communities.

Some of Ochsner’s efforts to help to better educate the community on cancer screening, detection and prevention include:

  • Cut the smoking rate across its system patient population by 10,000 patients over the next five years by continuing to expand its Smoking Cessation Program—one that already has given over 9,000 patients the tools and support to kick the habit—and placing an even greater focus on our primary care and additional education and early detection for those at high-risk for developing lung cancer.
  • Double the number of patients who receive the HPV vaccine, reducing the risk of cervical, throat, and anal cancers.
  • Work with our partners to expand Ochsner’s reach and leverage its patient registry data, allowing the team to identify those patients most in-need of screenings.

Since its opening in 2010, the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center has cared for patients from 49 states and 22 countries, and continues to serve as a world-class patient and research destination using a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach that treats the whole person and not just their disease. Ochsner’s Cancer Centers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge deliver advanced technologies— precision therapies, improved early tumor detection programs and early access to the most promising research and clinical trials.

As the Cancer Center expands, Ochsner will combine these programs with wellness services including nutrition, acupuncture, yoga, massage and physical therapy that consider not just the needs of the body, but those of the mind and spirit.

Additionally, genetic testing and counseling for those with a family history of cancer will play an important role at Ochsner’s new Hereditary Cancer Clinic. This level of insight paired with the most promising early-phase trials and the most precise treatments available proves that Ochsner is providing a service that is available at no other hospital in the region.

For more information on Ochsner’s cancer services or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner oncologist, visit www.Ochsner.org/cancer or call 866-524-4988.

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